Philosophy Politics Economics

Posted by Unknown | Posted on 9:08 PTG

Philosophy Politics Economics

When National Schools Cultivates Schism and Seggregation

Posted: 24 Jul 2013 09:26 AM PDT

I am a proud product of a Malaysian national school and continues to harbour romantic notions of how the school was able to bring various races of different religions together under a single roof.

However today, such thoughts are mere nostalgic reminiscenes of days long past.  Instead of bringing Malaysians together, the national schools have become the ironic reason, directly and indirectly for our young to be seggregated by race and religion.

There are two key reasons why the non-Malays of this country, particularly the Chinese community has chosen to shun the national schools today.  This will include parents who have gone through the national school system, who often don't even speak a word of Chinese besides their own name.

The first and perhaps the most dominant reason is the drastic decline in the quality of teaching at the national schools.  Parents who can't afford private schools would prefer to send their children to the Chinese vernacular schools to ensure that they receive an education of sufficient rigour and quality.  National test results have proven that the Chinese vernacular schools outperform the national schools significantly.

However, the quality of education isn't the only factor.  No parents would want to send their children to a school where their child will be seggregated and discriminated against, by teachers, schoolmates and the school administration.

Malaysians are up in arms over the news reports yesterday of photographs which have emerged online allegedly showing non-Muslim students of a primary school being made to eat in a shower room during fasting month.  The pictures show students of SK Seri Pristina in Sungai Buloh sitting around tables set up in the school's changing or shower room.

The school authorities have made the students eat in the makeshift dining room, located next to the toilets.  No food is believed to be served in the canteen, which is said to be closed during Ramadan.

Although the Ministry of Education has "pledged" action on this matter, the above while extreme in its nature, is certainly not the first case, nor will it be expected to be the last.  Over the past few years, we have read many such reports, including a principal in Kedah telling off the Chinese pupils for being insensitive towards their Muslim peers by eating in the school compound during Ramadan and telling them to "balik Cina".

There were equally ridiculous cases of cheerleading teams being disbanded, decrees for lion dance without drums during Chinese New Year as well as blanket bans on Christian fellowship groups.  And certainly, if one were to pay a visit to practically any national school today during the month of Ramadan, non-Muslim students are seggregated in secluded corners during recess, to "respect" their Muslim peers.

Even during normal months, students in many schools are seggregated so as not to contaminate Muslim food and utensils.  What's more, many students have in the past complained that they were forced to take Arabic or attend Islamic classes despite being non-Muslims.

Is this the "respect" that our national education system seeks to cultivate?  Shouldn't it be such that while non-Muslims understand and give respect to Muslims who are fasting, Muslims should equally understand and respect non-Muslim who are not?

The "transformation" of our national schools into such religious hardline schools has major negative ramifications for the country's future.  Not only are non-Malays extremely deterred from sending their children to these national schools, those who do – both Malays and non-Malays – will be scarred for life.

The non-Malays who attend these schools, such as SK Sri Pristina above, will see the entire country's system as biased against non-Malays and they will forever be discriminated as unworthy second class citizens.  The Malay students who attend these schools will on the other hand deem it is right and proper to subject other races, religions and cultures to their own beliefs and practices.

If the BN Government is serious about making the national schools, the school of choice for Malaysians and the grounds to breed national unity, then some very drastic reforms need to take place.

We call on the Ministry of Education to mete out swift and severe punishment to the school authorities who had the audacity to come up with policies demeaning our Malaysian children in SK Sri Pristina.  More importantly, we call upon the Ministry to come out of strict guidelines on these matters in our schools.  For example, non-Muslim students must be allowed to eat in school canteens during fasting month, and the canteen must be operated instead of being closed.  The failure to even come up with, and enforce such guidelines would only mean that the Ministry is granting tacit approvals for such actions, and will almost certainly make racial polarisation in Malaysia an irreversible process.

Maybank Must Explain BII Investment Losses

Posted: 23 Jul 2013 09:24 AM PDT

On 20 June 2013, Maybank has quietly announced that the Bank "has disposed of 5,065,380,000 ordinary shares in BII, representing approximately 9% of the issued and paid-up share capital of BII, to a third party investor".

Maybank has been under pressure to sell its stake in BII due to the Indonesian stock market regulation which requires that at least 20% of BII's shares to be "free float".  This was a condition imposed by the Indonesian authorities and accept by Maybank when BII was acquired in 2008.  With the completion of the disposal, the free float of BII shares has increased from around 2.7% to 11.7% of the issued and paid-up share capital of BII.

The curious question was raised however when there was surreptitiously no mention of the price of the transaction, and no mention of who this 3rd party investor was.  The price of the transaction is crucial because that will determine if Maybank had made and realised losses in the sale in the light of the fierce criticisms it received from all parties during the acquisition.

BII was acquired at the cost of RM8.25 billion at approximately Rp455 per share. Maybank was flayed by critics for paying more than 4 times the asset value of BII.

In May 2008, the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi defended the acquisition claiming that "the government is confident that the management of Maybank and its Board of Directors have made the purchase not only in the best interest of Maybank but also for the country."  Later in October 2008, the then Finance Minister Dato' Seri Najib Razak insisted that "the move was still a good one for the country".

In fact, as late a  January 2012, Maybank Chairman Tan Seri Megat Zaharuddin bin Megat Mohd Nor told Reuters that Maybank is "not going to sell down if we're going to make a loss compared to what we thought it should be."  The Chairman argued that "we don't think we need to give a discount."  Zaharuddin, who is also BII's president commissioner, said the bank will not sell BII's stake below Rp510 per share, the price it paid to buy the bank in 2008 before discount.

However, in the 1st July 2013 issue of The Edge, it was revealed "according to banking sources" that the 9% stake had been sold at Rp355 per share, or a significant 21.9% lower than the cost of acquisition.  This 9% stake sale will immediately translate to an estimated realised loss of RM157 million.  And if these loss is extrapolated, Maybank could be looking at a potential loss of RM1.74 billion.

What is worse is if we were to look at BII's stock price performance since the acquisition 5 years ago.  As at last week, BII shares closed at Rp315 or a 30.7% drop from the acquisition price.  This is despite the global equity markets hitting record highs currently.  At this price, Maybank is already staring at staggering paper losses of RM2.5 billion as a result of the BII acquisition.

This is despite assurances by Bank Negara, represented by Assistant Governor Puan Nor Shamsiah binti Mohd Yunos to the Public Accounts Committee on 18th November 2008 that the acquisition "will result in very minimal impairment to Maybank".  Despite myself expressing reservations during the meeting then over the potential impairment value, the Deputy Governor Dato' Zamani bin Abdul Ghani supported Puan Nor Shamsiah's assessment that any impairment will be minimal or at most "in the region of RM300 million" if the conditions don't improve.  In reality, as at 31 December 2012, Maybank has already made impairments of RM1.62 billion for the acquisition.

In fact since the acquistion, the return on Maybank's investment in BII has been abysmal at -0.17%, 1.86%, 2.31% and 6.27% in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Despite the above, in the announcement to Bursa Malaysia, Maybank has claimed that the disposal will not result in any material financial impact to the Group.  However, evidence points to the contrary and in the light of billions of ringgit of losses incurred by Maybank as a result BII's acquisition, it is crucial now for Maybank to come clean, particularly with regards to the most recent disposal of 9% of BII's shares at Rp355 per share.  More losses will likely be realised when Maybank is forced to sell another 8.3% of BII shares to third parties by 31 December 2013, the new extended deadine granted.

We also call upon the Finance Minister, Dato' Seri Najib Razak to personally look into this matter, whether the cause of the losses was "a bad business decision" or possibly a reckless abuse of power.  Whichever the cause, action must be taken against those found at fault so that the rakyat's interest in Maybank Bhd will continue to be protected.

Rahim Noor Exemplifies Why EO Should Not Be Reinstated

Posted: 22 Jul 2013 09:22 AM PDT

Disgraced former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor has argued over the weekend in Mingguan Malaysia that the new law to replace the Emergency Ordinance (EO) must permit "preventive detention".

He claimed the police have admitted that gangsterism is on the rise and even gone "out of control".  According to the former IGP, the police turned into mere observers, becoming completely helpless in crime prevention since the repeal of the EO.

"They see the situation as having gone out of control. Preventive arrests cannot be made because the laws no longer permit it. Gangsterism is getting worse but they cannot keep it contained," he said.  Tan Sri Rahim painted a bleak picture of the Royal Malaysian Police today, "it's like they have broken wings. Things are no longer like they were before. Intelligence gathered can only be documented".

Instead of justifying the EO, the above admission by the former IGP is the most damning piece of testimony of the competence and professionalism of the Royal Malaysian Police has declined to deplorable standards.  Tan Sri Rahim argued that "the information gathering and tracking is done by the police. They know more deeply about the crime world".  However, the "intelligence gathered can only be documented" with no further action possible. As a result, these criminals "are free to extort businessmen and rob businesses. Gang fights also keep happening around Klang Valley and Malacca where they kill each other."

That however, can only mean that either the "intelligence" isn't very intelligent, or there isn't anyone intelligent to exercise the "intelligence" to fight crime.

Hence the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in this case, absolutely spot on when he decreed that "now police must train themselves how to look for evidence" upon repealing the EO.  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato' Seri Najib demanded the police to now "provide evidence to charge them in court".

The former IGP also dismissed the views of the Attorney General (AG) claiming he "does not know fully about the twist and turns and modus operandi of criminals especially those involved in gangsterism".

Perhaps Malaysians really do not understand the twist and turns of those involved in gangsterism, it was Tan Sri Rahim Noor himself who had beaten former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to pulp while the latter was in custody. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Police had for the longest period denied any abuse on their part, and even suggested that Datuk Seri Anwar had given himself the infamous black eye.

Instead of taking his advice on the EO, Tan Sri Rahim Noor's action instead exemplifies the need to repeal the EO as the police, and even the IGP lacks the competence and cannot be trusted to decide who is or is not guilty before a person is charged in Court.  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for example, has been acquited of all charges against him.

We ask that the Government adopts the AG's position in this matter, that "the existing laws are sufficient to tackle criminals", and that "it is better to let more guilty people go free than to send the innocent to jail".

Therefore, the Police must start to lose their dependence on the EO like a crutch and instead, both the Home Minister and the Police must immediately focus the crime-fighting efforts such as restructuring the police force by reallocating more personnel to fight crime and setting up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

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